Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Keith Townsend and Gabriele Suder
Chapter 10: On solutions to the crisis in management education: can business schools improve the effectiveness of managers?
In this chapter I want to explore the management educator’s nightmare. Imagine the following scenario. A manager knocks on your office door. You cordially invite her in. She takes a seat and, after some pleasantries, says the following: ‘I’ve just had a poor performance review and have got to get better quickly or I’m going to lose my job. You’re a professor of management. Please help me become a better manager.’ To me, this scenario is a nightmare because it exposes the enduring problem in management education. In many, probably most, universities, the subject is taught at all levels from a theory-driven perspective rather than developing practical managerial skills. This dichotomy separates most academic teaching from most in-company training. In universities, the material that is taught is primarily generated from decades of studies into the nature of management. Study after study has built up a body of knowledge that is translated into the best current advice for managers. But such advice is, initially, theoretical and generic, and must be applied by students to their own specific environments. Unfortunately, helping students with this application is rarely given the same attention that the explanation of theory is given, thereby leaving many students dangling, unsure of the utility of their learning.
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